|19 August 2013|
|Playing without Andrea Bargnani would be a huge blow to Italy's EuroBasket hopes |
With just over two weeks remaining until EuroBasket 2013 tips off, medical staff around Europe are treating injured or ill players whose ability to participate in the big tournament in Slovenia will be decided in the coming days.
Italy find themselves in perhaps the most delicate position of all, as superstar Andrea Bargnani is battling a problem that cannot be dealt with physiotherapy.
On Tuesday 20 August the doctors of the Italian basketball federation (FIP) will re-assess the health status of the New York Knicks big man, who contracted pneumonia and had to pull out of training camp at the beginning of August.
Without Bargnani, Italy took excessive shots from outside and fell both to hosts Belgium (75-67) and to Israel (78-74) in a friendly tournament in Antwerp over the weekend.
Serbia have been hit hard from injury woes this summer, and while the status of star point guard Milos Teodosic is still up in the air, coach Dusan Ivkovic received some further troubling news at the weekend.
Forward Vladimir Lucic, who had received the green light from the team's doctors to re-join preparations after spending two weeks on the sidelines with back pains, is back to the treatment table.
"Almost everything seemed OK, the MRI scan showed no disc herniation, and I felt good.
"But after the trip to France again, I started feeling pain and stiffness again."
Lucic stepped on the court in Serbia's warm-up game against France, but did not take part in their next encounter in the Antibes tournament, against Georgia.
"I'm not even close to my potential, and if I'm not a 100% percent ready neither I nor the coach want me to play," Lucic warned.
While Lucic's situation is expected to be cleared by Thursday, Ivkovic at least can expect guard Nemanja Nedovic to re-join practices upon the return of the Serbian team from France.
Nedovic picked up a groin injury in last week's friendly game against Russia but is now expected to be back in full fitness in a matter of days.
Croatia had to play in a friendly game in Dubrovnik over the weekend without the injured duo of guard Krunoslav Simon and forward/center Luka Zoric, but showed clear signs of improvement and defeated both Montenegro and Latvia.
In the game against the Baltic side, coach Jasmin Repesa even welcomed back to the line-up young star forward Dario Saric, who returned to action after nursing a sprained ankle that dogged him for about 10 days.
Simon and Zoric are expected to follow Saric's example and re-join the team soon, with their participation at the EuroBasket not deemed to be in jeopardy.
Repesa however has lamented the fact that the ongoing injury problems have prevented him from working as he would have liked and the Croatian team cannot pick up a rhythm because of the absences.
|Milko Bjelica returned for Montenegro over the weekend|
Croatia's opponents in the Friday game meanwhile, Montenegro, have welcomed back Milko Bjelica who was late to join preparations because of injury.
Bjelica played normally in Dubrovnik and stated: "I feel great, I am back to 100% fitness and at the full disposal of the coach," to give Luka Pavicevic some much-needed good news after Nikola Pekovic's decision to withdraw from the EuroBasket.
Young big man Marko Todorovic however, who underwent hand injury at the end of the club season, did not play in the game against Croatia; the player though had stated recently that he will be fit in time for the EuroBasket.
Great Britain meanwhile are sweating over the state of health of veteran Daniel Clark.
The power forward has not been able to join the team in training camp as he is battling a serious ankle injury and the coming days will be critical in determining his availability for EuroBasket 2013.
Clark of course did not travel to Crete at the weekend, where Great Britain lost to Greece in a friendly clash.
The Greeks are now in a better position that most teams, as center Ioannis Bourousis, who fractured his rib three weeks ago returned to action during the game, albeit just for a few minutes.
Winger Kostas Vasileadis, who also did not play on Crete, is only battling a nasty virus and should return to action mid-week.
Three more Greeks players that had been nursing injuries over the last 10 days are also back with the team, in Vassilis Spanoulis, Stratos Perperoglou and Kostas Kaimakoglou, the latter sporting a protective mask on his broken nose.
Meanwwhile young small forward Edo Muric, who missed Slovenia's latest two warm-up games due to an ankle injury, is not facing a serious problem and should return to practices by Wednesday.
The EuroBasket hosts have been largely spared of injuries thus far after the start of preparations, although they had to come to terms with the withdrawal of star power forward Erazem Lorbek, who had surgery in both his knees, early in the summer.